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Hitting the ground, but slowly! So as not to miss the diversity...


Ben Noble

The sun rose, the birds chirped and the pitter-patter of gentle raindrops sounded on my tent. Day 1 of field work was upon me and I was as excited as a Mermotologist in a field of Nothomyrmecia!

Heading out shortly after breakfast with the team from TERN (Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network) our aim was to secure samples from two sites to contribute to TERN's ever-growing database of plant species.

Our first destination was to the salt pans where I was struck by its arid beauty. The mornings rains soften the ground under foot and the overcast light brought a richness to the few tones of colour: reds, greens, and greys. In order to conduct the survey and collection we needed to establish a plot. 100m2 was marked out using GPS technology, star droppers and camp pegs. We needed to be sure that the plot we were interacting with was as undisturbed by human influence as much as possible. This meant avoiding decades old car tracks or fence lines. As such, we attempted our plot twice before landing on our desired space. It was here we found three species of Samphire: a red or green succulent-like plant and vast coverings of Cryptogram: a moss-like organism that helps the earth retain water and rigidity.

After lunch we made our way further west into Yalata where we established a plot in the Grasslands. Again, finding the right plot takes time, patience and expertise. We made our way through centuries old farm land to find an untouched parcel of land to make our findings but not before a few stops to relocate some sleepy lizards off the track. Taking a range of grasses, flowers, and weeds we were pleased with the bounty that we were able to procure.

A full day of learning, observing, and getting amongst it I am eager to see what day two involves!